“I will no longer drink tea” she said, banging down her fine, gold rimmed cup.
“How pretentious,” I thought, “and so typical of her to overreact.” Five years had passed since the government had passed the “Tea for Health” act. It had not been a surprise to anyone, it had been years in the making. Ever since 2020 when JD L’Chan had proved “beyond a shadow of a doubt” that tea in manipulated form was the elixir of life, we knew it would become a mandatory drink. Barring an accident or “deliberate act of life termination by self or third party”, we would no longer perish of disease, just eventual weakness accompanying our very old age. It made sense the government had ordered us all to drink tea and only tea. That was just fine by me. I intended to enjoy myself for as long as possible, and two hundred years now seemed a distinct possibility.
“Don’t be silly, Masanah,” I waved my index finger under her nose. “Unless, you are feeling suicidal. Are you feeling suicidal?” I moved in closer and stared at her searching for tell -tale signs of a death wish. I saw none. “It isn’t that business with Orcar, is it? You’re not still upset about his fling?”
“Ha,” she snorted, “I couldn’t care less.”
“Excellent,” I mentally crossed off Orcar as possible cause. “Anything else troubling you then? Why on any planet would you not want to drink tea every day of your life?”
“Nobody tells me what to do,” she pursed her lips and glared at me. “Nobody, not Orcar, not you, and certainly not the government.”
I admit at that moment as she uttered those treacherous words, I felt quite nauseous. Even so, the butter cream cake next to the teapot looked tempting. “Could I have another slice,” I muttered striking a fine tonal balance between sick and greedy. She passed me a piece and I tucked in. “”You know you can get in big trouble,” I ventured. “They’ll find out you’re not drinking and you’ll be locked up. In one of those tea prisons we hear so much about.”
Masanah shrugged, “If they try and force me to drink I will probably give in. But until that day, I shall remain firm. No tea for me.”
She smiled making her look as crazy as she sounded. I sighed, and put my tea cup to my lips. I could feel the warmth of the porcelain and smell the fragrance of the leaves. Why anyone would not want to drink tea was beyond me. “”Do you not like the taste, Mas’?” Again, that smile of lunacy as she replied.
“I do. I do very much. But I wish to remain free of imposed will. I cannot take the shackles any longer.”
I shifted on my chair. The cake was good, the tea was excellent but there is only so much madness one can bear when one is sane.
“Will you stay for supper?”
It was as if she knew I was about to leave. “I don’t think I can Masanah, I have urgent business with my fish tank adviser.”
“I thought they all perished when you changed out the water for tea?”
Ah yes, sadly they had. Finding the poor things floating upside down in my finest Darjeeling, had been very upsetting indeed. Seemed like tea didn’t prolong all creatures’ life as I had hoped. “Yes, yes” my voice trailed off. I closed my eyes for a brief second in memory of Albert, Alfonso and Arthur, may they rest in peace.
“So why meet with an adviser?”
“To advise on which tea might be more suitable of course.” Seemed like Masanah really wasn’t thinking straight today.
“I can tell you which tea is more suitable, and that is none at all.”
I had had enough of her craziness. No delicious cakes, no beautiful tea could keep me at the same table with her any longer. Besides I needed to use the restroom.
“Wait, wait, don’t be like that!” Masanah lightly touched my arm. “Don’t go just yet. Best friends stick by each other through thick and thin. Besides, I made roast beef for tonight, and parsnips. Your favorite!” She looked at me expectantly.
Masanah knew me far too well. Even when I was angry, or convinced she had gone completely insane, she knew how to wrap me around any of her fingers. Tea was the only drink for me and parsnips were my all time favorite root. They were hard to come by these days, unfashionable reminders of bygone days of Sunday lunch. I didn’t mind their reputation, I would have embraced a Parsnip Health Act as much as our Tea one. “But the adviser…,” I mumbled.
“He can wait, cancel him and stay for my meal.”
There was nothing I really needed to cancel, as he had been my first line of excuse. “Alright then, ” I agreed, “But contain all that nonsense about the tea. You do need to get cooking, don’t you, Mas’? As the old saying goes; fine words butter no parsnips!” and with that, I sat back down on my chair and happily poured myself more tea.
* Title provided by @thedevotea who suggested it as a prompt for our next blog post. I didn’t realize it was a saying until he told me so. It now makes perfect sense. I can never resist a good challenge and this is a fine one indeed. Besides, I love parsnips. Thanks for inspiring me to write again.